by Leci Solis
Formed in the Rio Grande Valley, Dezorah began in 2014 after Dallas natives Danica Salazar (vocals) and Eric Martinez (guitar), reunited in McAllen, Texas where they recruited local musicians Daven Martinez (bass), Trey Puga (drums), and Jonathan Garza (guitar). Raised on similar strands of progressive metal and experimental rock, they all conjoined their implacable talents to ignite the eruptive and energetic force that is Dezorah. Their band name was derived from Zora, the aquatic humanoid creatures inhabiting the realms in the Legend of Zelda Water Temple dungeon. Accordingly, the magical soundtrack inspired the music of their new E.P.; Creando Azul (2018), which evokes water. Directly translated the title means "Creating Blue" which is representative of an aural voyage invoked by their immersive sound, and contemplative emotion. The lyrics to the song "Aware" originate from a dream in which the lead singer Danica sank into the ocean, and instead of experiencing anxiety, she found calmness and purification in the blue. The music resembles the cyclical swells of waves as water rhythmically recedes and flows in an inundating tide.
Dezorah combines jazz and latin drum beats, aggressive metal guitar riffs, dark and heavy bass lines, and siren vocals to produce chaotic yet meditative sounds that erupt from their instruments to engulf everything in their presence. The potency in their music simulates the baleful beauty in violence prevalent in nature like a soundtrack to the transmutations of matter caused by the clasp of waves, lightning in skies, or volatile winds that symbolize the internal shifts within ourselves. Their ability to experiment with distortion & ambient sound amasses, comprised of progressive guitars and thunderous drums, until a soothing siren's voice rises from a perfect cyclone the instruments create - a cyclone capable of stirring up the sea. On stage, Dezorah becomes an unpredictable & unstoppable force apt to destroy and regenerate. The guitars entwine thrashing guitars riffs, distorted progressive whirs, and puzzling math rock spells that obliterate the distinctions in the genres. The drums incorporate jazz syncopations and latin beats into heavy pounds that thrusts the music into expansive soundscapes. The bass reverberates in obscure and violent tones beneath the tumultuous sounds. The lyrics are poetic and emotionally-potent delivered in a ferocious yet divine and pristine woman's voice that is able to obvert incantations into anguished wails. The music stands as an artisanal creation. "Creando Azul" is a purely self-reflective deep-dive past the chaos at the surface into the profundity of the self.
I N T E R V I E W:
Your music is very cataclysmic, very energetic, very earthly, too. What is the source you guys draw that energy from?
Eric: Main influences I guess would be Mars Volta, At The Drive In, Circa Survive, there’s a band called Maudlin of the Well that we all really like.
Danica: We all like different types, very different crazy bands. We take a lot of influence from bands that are on the prog experimental side. We take a lot of inspiration from metal bands like Deafheaven, Gojira.. we all like a lot of different blends of music so whenever we started writing, we started putting in our influences as well as what we were kind of carrying inside of us so then it turned out how it turns out, it’s kind of weird.
Trey: A lot of it is from emotion, how we feel. It’s when we sit with our instrument and just play what we feel, it kind of just comes together the way it does. We usually like jam out together and just kind of write on the spot, someone has an idea, they’re like playing with it, they’ll show it to another person.
Jonny: We usually have a general idea of what we wanna do, I remember when we first wrote the first song of this new album, we were thinking of Legend of Zelda and the Water Temple, and we just listened to it for a little bit and we just kind of started riffing around with it and that’s how we came up with that first opening thing which is probably listening to that and so it comes from different places like that.
And it is like noticeable because this new one is a lot more ambient and meditative than your previous work, Tierra Eterna (2016).
Danica: I guess like reflective, it was all about reflection in this album so you saying that, that’s awesome that you can hear that also because it was very cathartic this new album, and it all just blends really well together, all the songs we wrote them specifically to fit that theme, so writing this album as a five-piece was really really great, a really great intro to the other stuff that were gonna get into.
Whose idea was it to choose that as a source of inspiration?
Jonny: For that song, it was all of us..
Eric: Honestly all of us grew up playing that game, Zelda, I think it was kind of in us, even the name. The name of the band is derived from the game as well.
Danica: That song we were thinking of a song of healing, because that’s one of the songs I’ve always been drawn to in Legend of Zelda, but for the whole album, that kind of set the tone. "In Weight" was the very first song that we wrote. I really wanted to talk about purging and healing from emotional turmoil and emotional trauma so I came up with this concept/story about healing, of course through my own experiences but every song is like a step in that healing process. From the beginning, which is trying to find hope in something and then not really wanting to latch on to that hope and then towards the end is already like giving in to that and it all has to do with, for me, water. I found that as a comforting source for me, like a healing source, going there to the ocean and give yourself and find yourself there.
It was mastered by Sarah Register and she has done some big albums, so how was that like?
Jonny: It’s like much easier than you think to get to one of those people.
Danica: The person who recorded us and produced our album Alex Bhore from Elmwood Studio, he’s like “she’s my friend, I usually have people go with her and stuff so she’s like a really amazing mastering engineer." We’re just like “hell yeah.”She’s like mastered all these incredible albums so our manager just hit her up and she was all for it. It was really really awesome.
After this E.P., where is your sound heading towards and would you say the band has reached a culmination of the sound you guys want to achieve?
Eric: For me, having the term progressive as part of our genre style is enabling us to wiggle around genres because obviously we all really enjoy different types of music. We want to be able to express ourselves in different ways using those different types of music if we need it, and so for us I think the term progressive goes along with that. It’s not so much progressive guitars but overall just ever-evolving. We don’t really dwell too much on where or what we’re gonna do next, it’s just a matter of hashing it out and allowing our feelings to guide what we’re playing and just turn those into ideas we can all get on the same page with.
You guys incorporate Spanish into your lyrics, how do you decide what goes in Spanish and what goes in English?
Danica: It just depends on the feeling I get. Spanish was one of my first languages. I feel like I spoke Spanish first before I spoke English, because my grandparents are from Mexico and they would always take care of me, my mom spoke more English and my dad spoke more Spanish, so Spanish was a language I grew up with. While I was living in Austin, I felt like I lost that part of myself because I wasn’t able to communicate with people in Spanish, and I felt like that was going away, so my identity was going away. Whenever we started writing, one of the first songs that came out was in Spanish. I felt like it happened because I needed to keep that part of myself alive, so then I kept it that way. Anytime that I feel like there’s a certain energy that needs to go into it, it’s usually in Spanish. That’s why "Claridad" is half in Spanish because it is that last process of healing so it’s like you’re keeping that part of yourself alive and evolving it.
There’s a lyric line there "My heart searching for a purpose/A moment of clarity" that reminded me of a lyric from Bjork, "Moments of clarity are so rare/I better document this." Is Bjork an influence?
Danica: Yeah man, she’s amazing. Absolutely. Bjork is incredible.
Eric: Even I’m influenced by Bjork.
Can you share more about your individual influences?
Eric: I grew up listening to mainly metal, 90’s new metal, all those bands and got into heavier death metal, I played in a death metal band for a really long time, that’s definitely what kept me going as far as guitar, my style is very aggressive and I think it shows. Now, ever since I met Danica and we started really hanging out, my music palette just broadened, I just started becoming way more accepting of anything that was music. Just giving it a chance moreso, being a metal-head in high school and middle school kind of closed myself off anything that wasn’t super heavy. Then you realize that man, you’re missing out on a universe, multiple universes of just good art, and so now I can just sit here for like an hour and just name every band. Everything from Bjork to Maudlin of the Well, to hardcore band Cloud Rat to pop bands like Passion Pit is a great one, we used to cover Passion Pit. Because you can hear any sound and apply it to whatever instrument is your main instrument, we have a ton of effects, you could make your guitar sound like something crazy, a UFO if you want.
Danica: UFO’s are my inspiration.
First of all, I know you (Trey) do something very interesting, you once said in an interview “Sometimes I do Jazz, then sometimes I do rock."
Trey: Ever since I started playing drums I could never sit still on anything so I was always wanting to change it and change it. Keep evolving just so I see all my options, so with that when I was learning drums in General Music in highschool, I tried to learn Jazz, Conjunto, Mariachi...I was in marching band also. I was just trying to get everything I could around me and use it as an influence, and go through everything and see how I can keep changing this and that and meshing this with this. I was just like a little boy, getting excited, crafting art basically. I’ve been largely influenced by System of a Down, Linkin Park is a huge influence also. Especially with these guys, Mars Volta, I was getting more into Tool, Bosnian Rainbows...there’s a lot. I love playing music and I try to learn as much as I can.
Daven: For me, honestly it’s very similar to everybody else, so many influences to be honest. It’s kind of always changing, sometimes somebody will show me a certain band, I’ll be all about that band for the next month. Then I’ll find another band and be about that. I try to use whatever I really like about that band, and try to take it in, maybe take it as inspiration, and try to create something that’s the same thing but something based off of it, something that influences me. I had a similar upbringing. Right before I joined this though I was doing a lot of cover bands and before that I was in the jazz band school. I played guitar then I played upper bass in orchestra, listened to metal too growing up. As far as influences, lately I’ve been super into Town Portal, they’re a really cool three-piece instrumental band, they’re sick. Elephant Gym, another three-piece band. I’ve been really into that lately, instrumental music and stuff like that.
Danica: For me, there’s so many bands that have influenced me..
Trey: Guns and roses…
Danica: Crossfade, no I’m just kidding. Growing up of course my biggest influences when I was like 3 or 4 years old is Selena. You know, who didn’t dress up like Selena all the time, and ran around singing the lyrics you know?
Daven: I didn’t.
Danica: What are you doing in this band? We were all doing that when we were little. Very influenced by Selena, wanted to be like her, wanted to be a singer, and then growing up I listened to stuff like Linkin Park, System of a Down, huge fans. I think one of the biggest bands that really opened up this completely different world for me, was when I was 15, I went to a local show in Dallas and I was able to see a band called Fair to Midland.
Eric: The Gravestones?
Danica: No, that was Eric’s old metal band
Danica: There was this band called Fair to Midland, unfortunately they don’t play anymore but like literally the first day I saw them, I was just in awe. I just thought “I can’t believe music can do this to a person”. I never felt that shook to the core music before and that shook me to the damn core. The singer’s vocal range was insane. I get a lot of influence from that, seeing that I was like “I can do this.” I was 15, and it was one of my first concerts. “It would be so amazing to do this one day”, and I was obsessed with that band, I would go to every show that they had, every single show in Dallas and unfortunately they did break up but I was able to meet them a couple times, talk to them. It was cool seeing that process. I was like “Errr, I wanna do this!”, so I definitely want to credit a lot of the passion that I have to that band because it really did shake me to the core.
Eric: I met that same band around the same time Danica did because my old band rehearsed in the same rehearsing studio, the confidence and drive they have, just things they would tell me being that age and like having a band that you look up to, not only are they really humble, nice to you, and allow you to hang out whenever, but also just be really open and any question I had if they did answer, it’s not like they were trying to hold a secret to their success or anything, they would just tell me things like, kind of obvious, just always want to get better, don’t ever feel like you’re as good as you’re gonna get. Because that’s whenever you stop progressing. We know that but being told by somebody that’s an idol to you...That’s just one instance but they were definitely a huge influence for me.
Danica: I also listen to a bunch of other different stuff now, like Deafheaven is a huge influence to me, King Woman, incredible influence, Mars Volta, Le Butcherettes, oh my god Teri Gender Bender is like one of the most amazing women, we got to play with them and that was the craziest experience ever, because we saw them back in like 2011 and I was just blown away by not only the stage performance but musicianship and how amazing how different everything sounded, and then fast forward 6 years later we’re playing with them. It’s amazing seeing that.
Jonny: Pretty much the same as everyone else, a lot of the same influences too. I started playing in marching band, in high school I really started playing instruments. My high school marching band was always playing hip hop songs, so I got more into that. Then System of a Down, playing guitar classes, learning those songs. I find influence in a lot of different things, music wise, it could be something super small to the way they play the drums or the rhythms they use, how simple they are and the chord base they use.
Special thanks to Nicole Baumann from Noisy Ghost!